16. Effective Home Remedies for the Common Cold

Colds are caused by many different viruses and even if you develop immunity to one type of cold virus, more are lurking everywhere, waiting to attack. That’s part of the reason we get colds so often (an average of three to four a year, every year).

You probably don’t need a book to tell you what a cold feels like. It generally begins with sneezing, a clear-mucused runny nose, and a slight fever (rarely exceeding 101°F), and goes on to develop into a sore throat and dry cough. The symptoms usually last three to seven days.

Colds are transmitted by the spread of mucus on the hands of someone who has a cold. You touch towels or money, someone else picks them up, and thus catches your germs. Cold viruses also travel from one person to another via coughs and sneezes.

To avoid spreading your cold to others:

  1. Wash your hands often.

  2. Use a handkerchief or disposable tissues when you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose.

  3. Avoid touching other people and their belongings as much as possible.

Much of the same strategy helps to prevent catching a cold.

Here are some hints for fighting a cold.

  1. Rest as much as you can.

  2. Drink lots of hot or cold beverages. They help to break up secretions in the respiratory tract and may also discourage complications, like bronchitis, from developing.

  3. Take a pain reliever for muscle aches and pains. (Note: Aspirin should not be given to anyone under 19 years of age who have chicken pox or flu-like symptoms, however, because of its association with Reye’s syndrome, a potentially fatal condition that is discussed in chapter 2, Major Medical Conditions: Prevention, Detection, and Treatment.)

  4. Soothe a sore throat by gargling with warm salt water, drinking tea with honey and lemon, or sucking on over-the-counter throat lozenges. (Do not give throat lozenges to children under age 5.)

  5. Breathe air from a steam vaporizer or a cool mist humidifier to help quiet a cough.

  6. Eat chicken soup. It helps to clear out mucus.

  7. Take zinc lozenges, echinacea, and/or vitamin C as advised by your doctor or health care provider when cold symptoms start. These do not prevent colds.

Chapter 1
  1. Fast Relief for Everyday Health Problems